Hasbro couldn't have a line of Transformers where combining together (powerlinx) was a central theme without producing some old school
combiner teams. And they have delivered three such teams since Christmas, all themed around one of the original Generation One combiner
teams: the Aerialbots, Constructicons and Combaticons. Since each team consists of five bots, one deluxe and four basic Transformers. That's
a lot of new Transformer goodness. And it is sure to pique the interest of old school fans.
Hasbro did something quite interesting with these teams, each uses only two different molds for the four basic figures. So the completed teams consist of one deluxe figure, two basic figures and two repaints of those figures. I'm sure this is going to turn off a lot of customers who won't want to buy what is essentially two of the same figure to complete the team, and then have to do this twice! The worst thing is the fact that, as with the G1 combiner teams, all of the molds for the basic figures use the same connectors. So there is really no reason why Hasbro couldn't have mixed them up a little. They certainly could have used one of the helicopters from the military team with the aerialbot team and one of the planes as a replacement.
Packaging - 7/10Each of the five figures that make up the teams comes on their own card. The four smaller Transformers come on a slight variation of the basic cards while Storm Jet is packaged as a deluxe figure. There is only one major difference between the two styles, the basic figures are packaged on a traditional card layout while the deluxes' cards are turned on their side in a landscape style layout with the bubble off to the right side. Both styles of cards have the Transformers Energon logo along with an illustration of the character's robot mode on the front. The toys themselves are packaged in their vehicle modes with any weapons and accessories displayed around them. The combiner teams do differ from the standard figures with the addition of a symbol showing which team they belong to; with the figures to form Superion are labeled A1 through A5. The usual image of the figure's robot mode is missing from the side of the basic figure's package, replaced with an illustration of their combined form. The backs of the cards are dedicated primarily to the team aspect of the figures. There is a smaller photo of the toy in both modes, but most of the card is occupied by a large photo of the combined team with the portion formed by the individual toy highlighted while the others are semitransparent. (My guess is that Hasbro didn't want it to be immediately obvious that the limbs reused the same molds. While a tad bit deceptive for my tastes, that was probably a good idea on their part.)
Sculpting - 6/10I was quite impressed with how well the basic figures have turned out. I was concerned that they would be bricks that only vaguely resembled Transformers. They are not. In fact, unlike their G1 counterparts, Terradive/Sky Shadow and Treadshot/Windrazor are much better as stand alone basic Transformers than components of Superion Maximus. Storm Jet manages to strict a nice balance all around.
Terradive and Sky Shadow's vehicle mode is well designed though a bit chunky for a plane. It also has the added benefit of being loosely based on the design of a GI Joe vehicle, the Cobra Rattler. In robot mode there is quite a bit more plane parts hanging off of the figure, especially off the back. But the only truly annoying thing is that the turbine engines which form the forearms are open on the top in robot mode.
Treadshot and Windrazor are both fixed wing jets in vehicle mode. Their jet mode is fairly well designed, but the arms folded underneath are not well hidden and the wings don't transition as well as possible from the exposed upper leg to the lower legs to the wing tips. Their robot mode is very nice, with the only bits of vehicle not incorporated into the design being the tail section that just hangs off the back.
Storm Jet has another very well executed vehicle mode: a Concorde style super sonic transport jet. Like Treadshot and Windrazor, the wings could use some work as the thickness changes abruptly where the sections of the arms change. Storm Jet's robot mode takes a little getting used to. At first I really didn't like it, but it has grown on me. Like Terradive/Sky Shadow, the arms are left open on the top, and this time the landing gear are left visible as well. But it is the lack of a solid body that turned me off at first. But given the slim body of the vehicle mode, it is all but unavoidable. And Hasbro did include two folding panels that help to fill in the gaps.
Paint - Terradive 5/10, others 6/10Hasbro generally has very well executed paint applications on their Transformer figures. And these are no exception. The paint work is not extremely complicated. Most of the sculpted details are left completely untouched. But just managing to maintain straight lines that actually line up properly across two or more parts is impressive. I docked Terradive's score due to the white areas being too white. The flat finish on the upper arms and legs give the figure a generic look.
Articulation - Storm Jet 6/10, others 7/10I was pleasantly surprised by the articulation on these figures, the basic ones in particular. In vehicle mode all five have a set of three retractable landing gear. In robot mode, the basic figures all have ball jointed knees, shoulders and elbows as well as rotating necks and hinged ankles. Sky Shadow and Terradive also have a rotating waists. Storm Jet has hinged knees, hips and shoulders, double jointed elbows, and rotating thighs, hips, biceps, shoulders, forearms and neck. While that is far more articulation, he lacks the range of motion allowed by the basic figures' ball joints.
Accessories - Storm Jet 0/10, Sky Shadow/Terradive 6/10, Treadshot/Windrazor 2/10Storm Jet comes with no accessories for the toy at all. (There are the usual pack ins of a comic book/catalog and instructions which are included with all of the figures.) A gun of some sort would have been nice since he is otherwise unarmed. The basic figures all come with a weapon and a blue energon chip that can clip over their spark crystals. Treadshot and Windrazor come with a pair of missile-like items which can attach under their wings or be folded and held like a high tech sai in robot mode and a plastic piece that can be used to connect them for forming Superion Maximus. In either mode they are clunky and look slightly out of place. Sky Shadow and Terradive are the only ones of the group with a decent weapon. They have a double barreled gun that can be held in robot mode or mounted to the plane either on the nose or atop the fuselage. Plus, it unfolds in the middle. While this is supposed to be used in forming Superion as well, it also works quite well as a surf board for their robot modes.
Special Notes - transformationThe transformations from vehicle to robot mode for the basic figures are pretty simple. In fact I was able to transform them without benefit of the instructions. And they are quite stable in both forms. Storm Jet isn't quite as simple, though most people should be able to transform him after walking through the process once or twice with the instructions. He isn't quite as stable either. The peg to connect the nose of the plane to the waist in robot mode is inadequate and allows the nose to pop free.
But what I'm sure most fans are going to be interested in is Superion Maximus. Sorry, I didn't save the best for last. Superion Maximus is a real let down. To begin with, the body is formed by Storm Jet in a slightly modified version of his robot mode. So the in stability of Storm Jet's robot mode carries over to Superion and made worse by the added size and weight. The legs wind up being far too close together since they are no wider than they were for Storm Jet's robot mode. As a result, Superion has to be posed with his legs spread at least shoulder width apart; the basic figures are just too wide. The figure cannot even stand flat footed. I also think the leg formed by either Terradive or Sky Shadow is so narrow at the bottom that it looks as if Superion Maximus has a peg leg. And then there is the fact that Superion Maximus has no hands. Overall, size is really the only thing Superion Maximus has going for him.
Value - Terradive/Sky Shadow 6/10, others 5/10The basic figures sell for around $7 while Storm Jet will run you $10 to $11. As individual Transformers, all five are fairly solid offerings with Terradive and Sky Shadow getting a slight bump in score for the uniqueness of the vehicle mode design and the inclusion of a decent weapon. But it is Superion that is really lacking in value. You end up not just buying five figures, but rebuying the two basic figure molds.
Happy Hunting:Storm Jet, Sky Shadow and Treadshot have been shipping since November and should be readily available at most stores. You will may have the best luck checking at Wal-mart stores. They received a pallet sized display of those three plus the first three Constructicon figures back during the holiday season and they don't seem to have sold very well. But Hasbro pulled another stunt with the figures to form the combiner teams; they didn't ship them together. Terradive and Windrazor are just shipping to stores now but are proving more difficult to track down in most areas.